Jethro Burns

Recommended Listening:
Back to Back (with Tiny Moore) Buy
Bye Bye Blues Buy
Swing Low, Sweet Mandolin Buy
Tater Bug Rag Buy
Jethro Burns Buy
Sample Track:  Jethro's Tune
(from "Back to Back" with Tiny Moore)

During the course of a career that lasted more than 50 years, the late Kenneth "Jethro" Burns was given many nicknames and accolades. Mandolin players called him "The Legend," "The Great One," "Mr. Mandolin" and the "World's Greatest Mandolin Player."

Certainly he was a major influence on many of today's leading players. His ever evolving style, a blend of clean single note lines, sophisticated harmonies, and ground-breaking chord melody arrangements for solo mandolin, emphasized the melody and loose swinging rhythm.

For 39 of those 50 years in show business, Burns performed with Henry Haynes as the musical comedy duo known worldwide as "Homer & Jethro." Their collaboration yielded 35 albums, a Grammy award, regular appearances on national television and radio shows such as Johnny Carson, Dean Martin and Jimmy Dean. A series of outrageously successful, and just plain outrageous commercials for Kellogg's Corn Flakes.

Most of their comedy songs were Jethro's parodies of hit pop and country tunes. Their brilliance as comedians threaten to overshadow their virtuosic musicianship, although two instrumental albums displayed their pioneering string jazz sound.

Henry Haynes died suddenly in 1971, but that painful loss didn't thwart Jethro's musical evolution. He began teaching and teaming with Chicagoan Ken Edison for three Mandolin instruction books published by Mel Bay. The two of them also performed regularly as "Homer & Jethro."

Jethro's humor, mandolin playing, and musicianship remained undiminished, even in the final stages of the cancer that took his life on February 4, 1989.